Switching to a New Inventory Management Solution

Switching to a New Inventory Management SolutionIt’s a big deal to switch to a new inventory management solution. You need to train key staff members on how to use the software in their daily work and get everything set up and transferred from your old solution. Here are four things you can do to make this process as smooth and simple as possible.

Have at Least One Primary Trainee

You should assign one or more individuals to be present at each training session for the new software and to be the most familiar with its various functions. These individuals could be your warehouse manager, in-house accountant, chief financial officer, and/or anyone else who is qualified to be a system administrator.

Why do this? Because you need someone to be an expert while recognizing that not everyone in the company has to know everything about the software. For example, salespeople just need to know how to generate sales orders, warehouse workers need to know how to generate purchase orders, pick items, and receive inventory, and chief information officers need to be able to check order statuses, inventory turnover ratios, projected sales, and other big-picture information. They have specialized roles to play, which don’t necessitate access to the full software.

If you have a handful of individuals who are familiar with all aspects of the software, they will be able to train others on those parts of the software that they will use in their jobs. And if one expert goes on vacation, takes sick leave, or even permanently leaves the company, you still have others who possess the knowledge to keep things running in their absence.

Set Aside Enough Time for Training

You should expect training on the software to take several days. If you opt to have an expert come to your facility to train your staff in person and help them set up a new inventory database, you will likely spend several hours on the phone with them to prepare. The more information you’re able to gather ahead of time, the better off you will be when the main training session begins.

The amount of time it takes to get fully trained will vary from software to software, but a good rule of thumb is to expect to work with a software expert for two days at a minimum. That’s not including all of the prep time, but if you sign up for an on-site training, it’s safe to assume you will need to spend more than one day with them to get everything you require from them. Try not to rush the process.

Focus on Accurately Setting Up Your Database

In addition to getting trained, the most important thing to do is to set up your database. To do that, you’ll need to add every one of your parts, products, vendor pricing, and locations, among other things. An inventory management solution is only as good as the information entered into it. Start yourself on the right foot by making sure the information you add to your database is accurate and complete. You can do this by making extensive use of spreadsheets.

Spreadsheets Are Your Friends

If you’re moving information from another inventory solution to another or even from an accounting solution like QuickBooks, the way to do it is by first exporting it into Excel spreadsheets. Once everything is in a spreadsheet, you can go in and do all sorts of things to prepare it for importing into the new solution. You’ll likely want to reformat the column headers to match new requirements, clean up errors in the data, and add missing items so that they’re ready to be entered into your new database.

A trainer can help you with this, or you might even be able to find spreadsheet templates, how-to videos, and documentation provided by the inventory solution provider.

This guest post was created by Robert Lockard with Fishbowl.

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